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Group wants state emphasis on road repair, not highway expansion

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group is targeting four potential highway expansion plans as being a waste of money. One is an I-94 corridor project in Milwaukee.

The group says  it would be cheaper and smarter to spend the money repairing what we have. \"While we waste money on unnecessary highway expansion projects, local infrastructure is crumbing.\" said WISPIRG's director, Bruce Speight.Along with fixing roads, WISPIRG says more transportation money should go to things like bike paths and public transportation.

The group cites Wisconsin Department of Transportation info in saying people are driving less than they were eight years ago. \"We've been accumulating more and more information and better information in the recent years that shows that we are not expanding the use of the roads as much as we thought we would.\" said Madison Common Council President Chris Schmidt.

The group says it wants a philosophy change on how state transportation money is used. Focused more on repair, not expansion.  \"Putting more money into the transportation fund at this time would be like putting water in a leaky bucket until we fix the problem.\" Speight said.

A Wisconsin Department of Transportation spokeperson wrote in an email, \"We’ve not reviewed the report put out by WisPIRG today.\" According to a report put out last month by DOT, \"...8 of 20 Milwaukee area freeway segments are so congested that motorists must allow twice as much time to consistently complete their trips during peak travel times as they would under uncongested conditions. The I-94 corridor is one of the most congested corridors in Milwaukee.\"

Also, according to the DOT website, an I-94 corridor project between the Marquette and Zoo interchanges is in the study phase.

There are two options on the table, each include adding lanes. One option is a double deck plan that's estimated to cost almost $1.2 billion. \"$800 million is what is included in our report as unnecessary spending to expand that highway.\" Speight said.

In an email from Mary Burke's campaign, her press secretary wrote, \"As Governor, Mary Burke will make sure we are prioritizing funding for the nearly $7 billion transportation budget that keeps communities connected, ensures roads are safe, and supports economic growth. Burke will partner with local communities to ensure we’re meeting their needs—cuts to shared revenue have made it more difficult to do even basic maintenance.\"


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